We condemn President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua and Inspector General of Police Mr. Mike Okiro for the bloody crackdown on Nigerian students protesting the underfunding of education on June 16, 2009. This bloody repression will go down in memory lane as a cruel rehash of the Gestapo methods of the Military Junta to crush mass opposition to anti-poor policies.
Particularly we condemn the killing of students of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko Ondo State and injuring of many others for participating in a nationwide protest action called by the Education Rights Campaign to demand among other things the upward review of the allocation to education from 7.2% to 26% as recommended by UNESCO. As a result, Awilo is dead while Ojo Samuel a 300 level student of Physics Electronics and about 2 other people are currently hospitalized. So far, over 40 people including students have been arrested while two student hostels (Grova and Little London) were burgled by the irate policemen who looted phones and other student valuables.
We therefore call for the sack and immediate arrest and trial of the State Commissioner of Police Charles Dawodu as well as others who shot Nigerian students while all those arrested must be immediately released. We also call on the State government to take responsibility for the treatment of all those hospitalized as a result of the shooting while adequate compensations must be paid to the families of the deceased.
While we welcome the removal of the Vice Chancellor Prof. Phillip Abiodun, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof. F. A. Oluwatelure, the Bursar Mr. Adesanoye Fasakin and some other principal officers of the University, we insist that students can only be satisfied when their demand for immediate conduct of examination is met. This can only be achieved if aggrieved lecturers are paid their allowances. We urge the State government to reopen the University immediately for academic activities to resume in earnest while meeting all the demands above as conditions precedent for peace to reign.
In the same way other Nigerian students were brutalized and arrested in many other states of the federation where the June 16 “Day of action” took place, students of AAUA have been bloodily repressed for daring to challenge government neo-liberal policies on education and demanding for the conduct of examinations. Examinations had been delayed for weeks as a result of the strike action embarked upon by lecturers in protest against the non-payment of their allowances by the Management of the Institution.
The students began their protest on Tuesday June 16, 2009 in answer to our call for a nationwide protest. It is on record that this protest was peaceful despite several provocations from the police. One of the results of the Tuesday protest was an ultimatum given to the Management for examination to commence which expired on Thursday June 18, 2009 without the Management paying lecturers their allowances or at least pacifying them.
It was this that infuriated students thus sparking protest on Thursday June 18, 2009. This protest was equally peaceful until Police attacked the protesters on the orders of the State Commissioner of Police Charles Dawodu. Tear gas and live bullets were discharged indiscriminately into the mass of the protesters thus killing one students and a motorcyclist while wounding several others. It was the killing of the motorcyclist that angered the youths of the community and led to the reprisal attacks on the police and the burning of a police station.
We have given the account of how the bloody repression happened because of the insinuations which the Police are making to portray the protest which started on June 16, 2009 as part of the “June Day of Action” called by us as violent in order to justify the killings. As far as we are concerned, this attempt of the Police amount to hiding behind a finger.
The pattern of the repression is the same from AAUA to Oyo, Osun State and Lagos State where the protest took place. In all of these states, heavily armed Policemen in huge numbers sometimes doubling that of the protesters were mobilized by the Commissioners of Police of each mentioned states to attack the protest. In Osun State, armed Policemen numbering hundreds were led by the Commissioner of Police to attack the protesters and it was when the protesters resisted that the Police conceded to allow the protest. Those who protested in Lagos were not so lucky as they were attacked in a Gestapo style by over 60 heavily armed policemen led by Mr. Tony Aruna Acting DPO of Sabo Police Station Yaba. It was the same story in Oyo State and elsewhere. This is why we strongly believe that the Inspector General of Police Mike Okiro has a hand in the bloody repression with the complicit knowledge of the President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua and they must take responsibility for the killings.
For us in the ERC, the bloody repression of the June 16 protest and especially the killing of protesters in AAUA cannot deter us. Instead, we shall continue to mobilize Nigerian students to fight for adequate funding of education until government is prepared to listen. We also demand the payment of N40, 000 education maintenance allowance to all Nigerian students, recall of all victimized students and restoration of banned unions, release of 27 soldiers sentenced to life imprisonment for protesting against superior officers who short-changed them as well as for immediate withdrawal of troops from Niger Delta.
Our demands are simple and justified. What we are asking for is that government should spend the Nation’s resources on provision of free education and a decent living standard for all instead of looting same or awarding outrageous salaries and allowances calculated at over N1.13trillion to themselves, their families and cronies. Our charter of demand has already been submitted to the Federal government on June 16, 2009, we wish to inform the public that government action or inactions on our demands will determine what steps we will take. If the Nation has to go through another round of nationwide students protest which will be more thorough than that of June 16, it is because the Federal government has refused to tow the path of peace by meeting our demands.
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Chinedu Bosah
National Coordinator National Secretary